UDS Undergrate Temp Probe Holder

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by ddave, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It is generally agreed that the best place to measure the temperature inside a UDS is at the center of the grate. That is easy to do when warming up but is a little more difficult when there is a big slab o' meat in the middle of the grate.

    Now, lots of people just read the temp of the dail thermo on the outside and add 30° or 40°, but I kind of like the digitals. Plus, I want to know where to set my high and low temp alarms on the Maverick without having to do the math.

    So . . . I came up with an undergrate temp probe holder.

    I took a piece of maple that I had in the garage . . .

    drilled a hole for the temp probe and two holes for wire to hang it by . . .

    inserted the wire and twisted it up . . .

    and fastened it to the bottom of the grate with the wire.

    Here it is with the probe inserted.

    A piece of foil on top to protect the meat from the wire (not that it is necessary) and to protect/shield the probe from dripping meat juice, and we're good to go.

    Maybe before I use it the first time, I'll actually move it to the center of the grate. But I was in a hurry to get the pictures.

    We'll see how I like it after a few smokes and after cleaning it, but I think it should work well.

    I came up for it for the UDS but I imagine it would work for any smoker with room underneath the grates.

  2. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Looks like a winner but couldn't ya just have used the metal clip that came with the Mav.
  3. bbq enthusiast

    bbq enthusiast Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Mmmmmm those pics look very familiar[​IMG]
  4. smoke freak

    smoke freak StickBurners

    I hang the probe of my Maverick under the grates on my Chargriller all the time. Works great. Cleanup isnt a problem.
    Nice work.
  5. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I thought about that but the clip doen't seem to hold the probe very securely depending on the width if the grill tines. Plus, the ends of the clip would be above the grate level and I didn't want the meat to push it through the grate.

  6. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    True, I might have to do this myself. Thanks for the idea Dave.
  7. vtanker

    vtanker Meat Mopper

    Cool idea!
  8. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I understand the idea, and I like it. I guess my 2 concers are:
    1.) need to protect the wire as meat drippings are going to kill it.
    2.) With the probe being in the hottest part of the smoker, the first time you get a flare up, that probe it toast. The best ones won't handle 400 degrees. The cheap ones die about 25 degrees below that. Leave your lid off for more than a minute or 2 and the center of the rack is going to spike over 500 degrees.

    I've got a really nice thermocouple that I've been trying to do the same thing with, so I can use my control system more accurately on the drum. What I'm playing with is an insulated double wall pipe, mounted under the grill grate and running out the side of the drum. The insulation will protect the wire and the joint, and the tip of the thermocouple probe will be exposed and located in the center of the grill grate. Pipe has to be easily removable so I can get the charcoal basket out, but rigid enough that I don't have to mount it to the grill grate.
  9. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I am glad you pointed these out. I had not thought of that.

    1. I had not thought of the need for protecting the wire. It's a Maverick probe with the mesh casing but I doubt it is "drip proof". I suppose I could wrap it in foil. Do you think this would work?

    2. I have never had a flare up with a probe in. When probes are in I never leave the lid off for a minute or 2. Whenever I open it, I close the valves first, do what I need to do and get the lid back on as quickly as possible. If I need to do something that takes a little time like foiiling, I take the meat off and close the lid, wrap the meat then open the lid and put it back on.

    Having said all of that, and using never too many times [​IMG] , I do have a spare probe on hand should "never" occur.

  10. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The foil will help keep the wire dry for sure. Make sure you wrap all the way into the probe material to seal the junction point.

    I was in communcation with a Thermoworks tech for about a month last year for a design I was working on. They tell me the biggest issue to deal with is the junction of the wire insulation to the probe. When that gets wet, it's only a matter of time until the death of the probe.

    Also, as I said I use thermocouples. The reason is, the standard probes in your typical oven/cooker type thermo is a thermistor type. Thermistors use an epoxy on the thermistor junction. This epoxy is the weak link of the design. Once that gets too hot, the probe is never the same. I guess that's my biggest concern. The problem is, the actual response time on these probes can be over 1 minute in some cases. If you do get a flare (which drippings can easily cause) it may be too late by the time you see a change register on the probe.

    As I'm reading this to myself, I'm sounding argumentative, which I'm not trying to (computer guys on Mondays....we're a tempermental bunch). I guess what I'm driving at is, could you possibly mount metal sheild between between the flame and the probe. I'm thinking an "L" shaped piece of metal mounted to your wooden fixture. That would protect the probe from a flame flash, without effecting the measurement of ambient temperatures.
  11. trapper

    trapper Smoke Blower

    I use a thermocouple also. One of my meters came with 2 of these probes and another meter came with one. I have been using them for awhile now on my weber kettle and so far they are holding up fine. I just very lightly crimped an alligator clip to it and clip it to the grate. They are cheap enough that even if I ruin them it won't break the bank. Here is a link: http://cgi.ebay.com/Set-of-2-Type-K-...1%7C240%3A1318
  12. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I did not think you sounded arguementative at all, just giving good information. But then I am a computer guy as well. [​IMG]

    I have never (there I go saying never, again [​IMG] ) "noticed" a flare up from drippings except when I was doing chicken quarters and that was only when the lid was off. When I put the lid back on, I peeked through an exhaust hole and the flames quickly died down. But then agian, I don't watch it all the time and, as you said, given the slower response time of thermistors, they may be happening but I am not noticing.

    I probably could make a shield for the probe out of something light and strong that is okay to have around food. Do you think a piece of an aluminum foil roasting pan would be heavy enough?

  13. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I think that would be fine. Aluminum melts at 1200 degrees F. If you hit that, you got bigger problems then probes, eh? [​IMG]
  14. I used the maverick mount and made a oak wood holder so I can now have both my probes in center works great!
    See picture hope it helps someone.


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